NASA flew a spacecraft directly into the Sun’s corona — here’s what it found

Plus: Where is the James Webb Space Telescope? Delayed, of course.

Sun image

Do you know how hot the Sun burns? At its core, the Sun is 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. At the surface, it is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit — but in the corona, above the surface, it is even hotter. I’ll quit the encyclopedia entry thread here and cut to the chase: A spacecraft just withstood it all and touched the Sun.

I’m Claire Cameron, an editor at Inverse. It is Thursday, December 16 — there are fifteen days left in 2021 and eight days left until the James Webb Telescope is supposed to launch into space, finally. Keep reading for a story on how to read dogs’ body language — and potentially get cuddles out of the equation.

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for Thursday, December 16, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox. ✉️

How can stars orbit a back hole?

ESO/GRAVITY collaboration

Sharpest-ever photos reveal an unexpected object near the Milky Way's black hole

Scientists captured the sharpest images yet of the area surrounding the Milky Way's black hole and discovered a new star orbiting around Sagittarius A*.

Using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer, a team of astronomers was able to zoom in 20 times deeper than ever at the center of the Milky Way. The researchers detailed their findings in two studies published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

“We want to learn more about the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, Sagittarius A*: How massive is it exactly? Does it rotate? Do stars around it behave exactly as we expect from Einstein’s general theory of relativity?” Reinhard Genzel, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Garching, and lead author of the studies, says in a statement.

“The best way to answer these questions is to follow stars on orbits close to the supermassive black hole. And here we demonstrate that we can do that to a higher precision than ever before.”

See the stars.

Go deeper: A distant signal could help astronomers find baby black holes

Could life have arisen at hydrothermal vents in the deep ocean? A new study suggests how it would work.

Ralph White/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

How did life arise?

Today’s scientists believe the answer may lie with LUCA — the last universal common ancestor of all life on our planet. This single-cell microorganism, which likely resembled bacteria, is theorized to have lived 4 billion years ago, arising from chemical processes inside Earth’s ancient hydrothermal vents. But scientists have long struggled to understand the biochemical processes — the energy itself — that gave rise to LUCA. Until now.

In a study published Monday in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, researchers present what they describe as the fuel driving the metabolic processes that gave rise to LUCA.

“A main question in understanding origins is where the energy came from,” Jessica Wimmer, a co-author on the study and a Ph.D. student at Heinrich Heine University Duesseldorf, tells Inverse.

“The energy comes from the metabolic reactions themselves,” she explains.

Read the full story.

Read this next: This underrated element could be the key to evolving alien life

NASA officially touches the Sun — and solves a solar mystery

Some really good space news: NASA’s audacious Parker Solar Probe achieved a scientific first after three years and five Venus flybys, entering the Sun’s atmosphere on April 28, 2021. The achievement was announced at a press conference at the American Geophysical Meeting Fall Meeting in New Orleans this week.

So why are we only learning about this incredible feat now? Well, NASA needed the intervening months to confirm they had actually done it — analyzing energy interactions recorded by the probe to try and mark the moment. Ultimately, the signature of the Sun’s magnetic field was the smoking gun that verified we had really, actually, touched the Sun.

Since then, the probe has encountered the Sun twice more — once in August and once in November.

Here’s what it found.

Go deeper: Look: Scientists discover rare planet orbiting 2 suns



Why do dogs like to cuddle? How to bond with your pup

When dogs cuddle with us, their brains release the feel-good hormone oxytocin, “which reinforces their desire and enjoyment of touch and bonding,” she adds.

The desire to cuddle is rooted in dog domestication — dogs have evolved to be with humans — but it also has to do with a more fundamental evolutionary desire to be in social groups with other dogs.

“Dogs in the wild and young puppies often cuddle with their littermates and mother as a way of bonding and showing subordination,” Chyrle Bonk, a veterinarian at Hepper, tells Inverse.

“When your dog cuddles with you, they’re showing their complete trust and love in your relationship,” Bonk adds.

Cute, yes, but what about when they don’t want to be touched? Our experts have the answer.

Dog cuddles: A primer

Purrfect thing to read next: Which pets are the most low-maintenance? The answer may surprise you

What was your favorite game of 2021?

Eugen Tamas / 500px/500px/Getty Images

BONUS: Inverse’s Year in Games 2021

We’re casting a backward glance toward the year that was, with an eye toward the months ahead.

As Jen Glennon writes, 2021 has been a particularly strange year for video games. After the fireworks of new-gen console launches at the end of last year, loads of would-be players found themselves left out of the loop for most of 2021, feverishly tracking down restocks of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

Over the next several days, we’ll be reflecting on some of our favorite games of the year — like Psychonauts 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Lost Judgment. We’ll also be looking ahead to some of the most intriguing titles of 2022, like God of War Ragnarok and Sifu.

Join us.

Quick question! Help Inverse readers expand their alternative holiday listening and send us your top holiday tune no one else appreciates but you. The most obscure will be featured in a newsletter over the next week. Send yours to

HBD, Wassily Kandinsky.

Pubic Domain
  • About the newsletter: Do you think it can be improved? Have a story idea? Want to share a story about the time you met an astronaut? Send those thoughts and more to
  • On this day: Wassily Kandinsky, a pioneer of abstract art, was born on this day in 1866.
  • Song of the day: Long Way Around The Sea,” by Low.
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